Tributes flow for ‘eccentric’ Sydney Swans icon

The footy community has paid tribute to former Sydney Swans owner Geoffrey Edelsten, who passed away aged 78 on Friday.

The controversial entrepreneur was found in his Melbourne apartment on St Kilda Road, with Victoria Police confirming a report is being prepared for the coroner.

His death is not being treated as suspicious.

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Edelsten was the first private owner of an AFL club, purchasing the license of the Sydney Swans for a reported price of $6.4 million in 1985.

The extravagant businessman was credited for rebranding the Swans as a flamboyant club in the 1980s, once arriving at the SCG in a helicopter.

Edelsten also helped introduce the “Swanettes”, an American-style cheerleading group.

Businessman Geoffrey Edelsten with members of the Sydney Swans.Source:News Corp Australia

Geoffrey Edelsten watches on from the stands.Source:Getty Images

But the Swans soon fell under hard times, and Edelsten was forced to sell the club in 1988 with losses of up to $20 million.

He was also a long-term benefactor of Carlton Football Club, and was awarded life membership in 2013.

Tributes flow for ‘eccentric’ Edelsten

Speaking to 3AW on Friday evening, former Swans player Greg Williams described Edelsten as “a great man”.

“People had an opinion of him, but he was a lot different than the actual opinion,” he said. “He was a great guy with a great heart, and he loved the Swans even though he barracked for Carlton.

“He loved football, and he couldn’t have looked after me any better than he did.

“I loved Dr Edelsten. All the blokes who played for the Swans, I’m sure there’s great memories there.”

Williams was a two-time Brownlow Medal recipient, representing Sydney for 107 games between 1986 and 1991.

Inaugural Swans captain Barry Round praised Edelsten for the exposure he gave the club after the relocation north.

“He really put us on the map and created some important awareness with the Sydney people,” he said.

“We were only getting our best players and goalkickers in one of the back pages of the Sydney Morning Herald, but with his flamboyant style, he really turned it around for the club.

“Things obviously went pretty pear-shaped at the end of his ownership, but he certainly played his part in the history of the Swans.”

Round was awarded the Brownlow Medal in 1981 and played 193 games for Sydney between 1976 and 1985.

Geoffrey Edelsten in 1985.Source:Herald Sun

Geoffrey Edelsten passed away on Friday.Source:News Limited

Speaking to the Saturday Herald Sun, former Carlton player David Rhys-Jones described Edlesten as an “eccentric” character.

“I went to his wedding to Brynne,” he said. “He was a bit different and he loved the game. He grew up not far from Princes Park and would go to games with his mum.

“I always saw him at corporate functions and he was just a great supporter of Carlton”.

Melbourne legend Garry Lyon called Edelsten “a really significant figure in the history of the Sydney Swans footy club” during Fox Footy’s AFL coverage.

“Our sympathises with all those involved with the Sydney Swans footy club, and indeed the Edelsten family,” Lyon said on Friday.

Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph broke the “sad news” on Fox Footy: “The most flamboyant man that has been involved in football for many a decade has passed away.

“He lived a life of excess, with a fleet of Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis.”

Inside Edelsten’s colourful love life

The GP and founder of the Allied Medical Group loved AFL football, but it was his love of women that made headlines.

Though he met and married his first wife, model Leanne Nesbitt, in the 1980s, it was his relationship with Brynne Gordon that will endure in the minds of most Australians.

Gordon, a fitness instructor who changed her name to Edelsten after they married in 2009, was a socialite who regularly appeared in Australia’s gossip pages.

Brynne, who was 25 when she met Edelsten on a blind date in Las Vegas, married the multi-millionaire in style. Their lavish wedding in November 2009 would be spoken about for years to come.

The pair, who had a 41-year age gap, raised eyebrows with their jaw-droppingly lavish nuptials which cost a staggering $3.3 million at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

Geoffrey Edelsten kisses wife Leanne Nesbitt.Source:News Corp Australia

Brynne and Geoffrey Edelsten.Source:AAP

In an interview with Stellar magazine, Brynne said she never married for money.

“Money is nice. Nobody is going to turn money down. But it was never about that. Believe it or not, Geoff can be very, very nice,” she said of the Melbourne-based businessman.

Reflecting on their wedding day, she said: “I cried the whole way. Mum said, ‘Brynne, if you don’t want to, we can run away right now.’ But, of course, I didn’t want to run away. I wanted to marry him.”

Their wedding included a helicopter arrival and circus performers for 500 guests, including Margot Robbie, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and American actress Fran Drescher.

After splitting, Edelsten was linked to Gabi Grecko, who is 46 years his junior. They married on June 11, 2015.

Edelsten and Grecko became engaged in November 2014 after he proposed to her during the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse.

Grecko and Edelsten have always made news for her daring outfits and his colourful suits.

The personality split from Edelsten in 2015 but reunited with him in 2018. The pair were rumoured to have split again in 2019.

Gabi Grecko pretends to stab Geoffrey Edelsten at the Brownlow Medal awards in 2014.Source:AAP

— with Rohan Smith

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